John Hall, Contributor
The Best Organizations For Entrepreneurs
Relationships matter. They provide us social context, allow us to transfer trust, and create opportunity. Relationships also, not surprisingly, fuel more relationships. But how do you start building your network?
The short answer is through organizations. Besides a curated network of relationships, organizations also provide excellent opportunities to give back, mentor others, and find resources to help businesses succeed.
As an entrepreneur, here are the organizations you need to know about:
EO is basically the Justice League of the entrepreneurial world. This group has it all – not only do they offer forums and personal advice on a national scale, the organization also sponsors local chapters with their own meetings and amenities. There are even great healthcare options for members. On top of that, there are personal mentorship opportunities and huge networking events. It’s the ultimate toolbox for entrepreneurs.
Young Entrepreneur Council
The YEC is an invite-only organization, and its services are top-notch. Through the YEC, a business can make its mark on the map with PR opportunities. The organization prides itself in “concierge-like service.” Members of the YEC can connect with the right people to help with their startup challenges; they also receive discounts on valuable services for their businesses. The YEC recently released a project called #StartupLab, designed to help young entrepreneurs achieve their goals.
Young Presidents’ Organization
YPO brands itself as “the world’s most powerful network” and “the best peer network in the world.” It offers forums for bouncing ideas off industry experts, and this organization allows for a truly global reach through its web of connections; it focuses on expanding members’ sphere of influence by helping them form partnerships with people all over the world. YPO offers exclusive events for members, but it also offers support and guidance for all members’ families.
FoundersCard is an elite community for entrepreneurial leaders that provides exclusive discounts and networking opportunities. The organization has relationships with numerous big-name companies to truly provide the best of the best for its members. The organization has an application process, favoring those referred by existing members
Vistage is 16,000 members and 15 countries strong, and growing. Its members attend meetings each month to participate in idea-sharing and advice-giving. With “advisory board” peer group meetings, private one-on-one mentoring sessions, expert speaker workshops, and a global members-only online network, Vistage offers multiple opportunities for busy executives to become better leaders, make better decisions, and achieve better results.
The up-and-coming organizations for your checklist:
Tech Cocktail is a media company and events organization for entrepreneurs and technology enthusiasts. Its goal is to amplify the local technology startup scene by hosting mixers and showcase events, and by highlighting startup news on its website. Tech Cocktail provides interviews, how-to tips, case studies, and rankings and reports, including their latest in-depth ranking of the top 15 accelerators in the U.S. – and a corresponding report on choosing the right accelerator.
Small Giants™ Community hosts a diversity of business life cycles and sizes, but it’s very close-knit. For the most part, they eschew financial requirements in favor of finding members who have deeply held values and are great people. The organization believes in digging to find a company’s purpose and philosophy – and its ideal members seek those same values. Some membership benefits include networking-with-purpose events, leadership events, resource education, best practices content, and discounts.
Region-specific organizations that are growing:
The Technology Council of Greater Kansas City is an industry advocacy group with 90+ member companies in its portfolio. Small- and medium-sized companies, as well as big corporations, including Cerner, Garmin, Google, and TEVA Neurosciences, are members. KCnext is focused on Kansas City’s startup ecosystem by supporting its young and pre-revenue companies. KCnext connects its members in order to grow the local tech industry. Membership provides access to investors, strategic partners, and new customers.
Built in Chicago
This is a rapidly growing online community for digital entrepreneurs and innovators. With founding sponsors J.B. Pritzker (New World Ventures, The Pritzker Group), Joe Mansueto (Morningstar, Inc.), Eric Lefkofsky (Groupon, LightBank), and Bob Fealy (The Duchossois Group), the site currently hosts 10,000+ registered members and 60,000+ users a month. It offers a job board for digital tech talent, publishes data on Chicago’s digital tech sector, sponsors monthly pitch events to showcase new startups, offers quarterly lunches with the top 100 CEOs in the city, and hosts an annual awards show called The Moxie Awards, as well as an annual design conference.
Corporate Alliance has five offices, located in Utah and California. The purpose of this organization is to serve as an accelerator in building meaningful relationships. Their goal is to provide an individual the training, facilitated events, and tools necessary to build a valuable network (or, as they call it, “a city of influence”). They have plans to establish a hub for Corporate Alliance in every metropolitan market.
Reach out to me @tweetjohnhall if you believe I missed a great resource for entrepreneurs – there’s always room for more valuable organizations.
Disclosure: I am a member of the YEC and FoundersCard